Coalition of Advocacy Organizations Urge Final Mayoral Primary Debate to Include Questions On Transportation, Infrastructure, Climate

June 22, 2021

Access-A-Ride, Disability Justice, For-Hire Vehicles, News

Coalition of Advocacy Organizations Urge Final Mayoral Primary Debate to Include Questions On Transportation, Infrastructure, Climate

Coalition Also Releases Dozens of Sample Questions Prior to Tonight’s Primary Debate 

NEW YORK – In advance of the final mayoral primary debate, a group of New York City’s leading transportation advocacy organizations released a joint statement on June 16 urging the final debate to focus on critical issues facing New York City’s transportation networks. In December, this same coalition of research and advocacy groups released the Equity on Our Streets agenda, calling upon candidates to prioritize bus riders, cyclists, accessibility, and climate justice on New York City streets. Today, they are also releasing dozens of focused sample questions –  categorized among accessibility, biking, buses, climate, curb space, infrastructure, MTA, and street safety – that could be asked at the final debate before the primary.

Joint Statement from Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, NYLCV, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Regional Plan Association, Riders Alliance, StreetsPAC, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign:

“We are deeply disappointed by the lack of serious questions on transportation, infrastructure, and climate in the New York City mayoral debates.  Even before the pandemic, New York City faced a crisis of climate, safe streets, and unreliable public transit service. We will not have an equitable recovery from COVID-19 without a focus on improving the systems that help New Yorkers get around each day.  Maintaining the status quo means gridlock, pollution, traffic violence, and inaccessible public transit – which all disproportionately impact lower-income New Yorkers and communities of color.”

“Our streets can be a pathway to recovery and ensure we exit the pandemic stronger than when we entered it. On the biggest stage before Election Day, New Yorkers deserve to hear candidates explain their plans to center equity, access, and health in their approach to transportation, infrastructure, and climate. We hope these questions will encourage moderators and candidates to focus on these critical issues during the final debate and final week of the primary.”

Sample Debate Questions: 

Accessibility

  • More than 70 percent of subway stations are inaccessible for people with disabilities. There are proposals in the City Council and City Planning Commission to use the zoning code to encourage elevator construction at stations. Do you support those incentives? In what other ways will you work with the Governor and the MTA to improve subway accessibility, which includes more than just elevator construction?
  • Clear and passable sidewalks are critical to allow people with disabilities, seniors, and those pushing strollers, delivery carts, and others to navigate the City. However, a range of obstructions, including curb cuts in disrepair and sidewalk bottlenecking caused by sidewalk trash piles, restaurant usage, and more have contributed to poorer accessibility conditions. What will you do to address these issues, thus ensuring sidewalk accessibility for all New Yorkers?
  • What will you do to ensure that people with disabilities can benefit from the micromobility boom? Will you encourage bicycle and scooter companies to develop adaptive products for people with disabilities, as other cities have already done?

 

Biking

  • How in your first 100 days as Mayor would you expand and improve the protected bike lane network?
  • Last year, the Surface Transit Advisory Council convened by Mayor de Blasio recommended bicycle “superhighways” to move more New Yorkers safely across the city. How do you envision bike lanes that don’t just replicate our current bike lane standard, but set us up for the future and ongoing boom in cycling?
  • What bridges in the five boroughs would you prioritize for creating or improving bike and pedestrian access?
  • Lack of secure bike parking is a leading reason more New Yorkers do not bike. While DOT has announced 10,000 new bike racks, these will not be secure bike parking hubs that prevent bike theft. What should the city do to increase secure bike parking?
  • Unlike Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, and many more cities, NYC does not contribute any public funding to our bike share system. Do you support allocating public dollars to Citi Bike so it can expand faster?

 

Buses 

  • What will you do to make sure NYC DOT is ready to add 30 miles of bus lanes per year as the Master Streets Plan requires?
  • Despite being home to the biggest bus network in America, New York City’s buses are the slowest, moving at an average speed of seven miles per hour. Slow bus speeds disproportionately impact Black and brown communities of color who rely on bus service the most. Do you support reallocating street space to give buses greater priority?
  • The de Blasio administration has implemented important new busways, specifically on 14th Street, Jay Street and Main Street in Flushing. However, all but one are less than a mile long, and then put bus riders back into congested streets. How would you build better busways? Where would you build NYC’s next busways?
  • Many candidates have spoken in favor of bus rapid transit. What does bus rapid transit mean to you and where will riders see improvements first?
  • New York has experimented with “select bus service” for a dozen years but buses often crawl even on many select routes. Which routes would you upgrade and what new features would you implement to make bus trips faster?
  • With 15,000 bus stops, only 3,000 have shelters or benches. How will you work with the vendor JCDecaux to provide more comfortable and accessible bus stops?

 

Climate

  • OneNYC commits New York CIty to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Yet overall emissions actually increased between 2017 and 2019. Passenger car emissions haven’t budged since 2005. What would you do to aggressively reduce passenger car GHG emissions in your first term?
  • Few major resiliency measures have been implemented in the nine years since Hurricane Sandy. How would you protect all five boroughs from rising seas, more frequent and extreme heat waves, and more frequent storms? How would you build resilience in our transportation network in the face of ever increasing extreme weather events tied to climate change?
  • NYCHA developments and rent-regulated housing were exempted from Local Law 97, the City’s law to reduce building emissions. How will you reduce emissions in public and rent-regulated housing without passing costs on to tenants?
  • Pollution from New York’s highways and truck and bus routes disproportionately harms Black and Brown New Yorkers. How would you address the legacy of environmental racism in our highway and street designs?
  • What would you prioritize for electrification in our transit network as mayor?

 

Curb Space and Parking

  • How would you improve the Open Streets program to ensure it equitably serves more communities?
  • What is your plan, if any, to bring New York City in line with other cities and containerize our trash pickup, giving back clean sidewalk space to New Yorkers?
  • Seven of the leading eight candidates for the Democratic nomination have committed to the NYC 25×25 challenge launched by Transportation Alternatives, calling for 25 percent of car space to be reallocated to space for people by 2025.  How would you get this done in that time frame?
  • Do you support eliminating minimum parking requirements from the zoning code to lower housing costs and combat car culture?
  • Do you believe that illegal parking and placard abuse is a problem? What will you do as mayor to address placard abuse?

 

Infrastructure 

  • As we recover from the pandemic, how will you leverage economic recovery efforts to expand and improve our transit system, in a regional context, especially in areas and communities and on routes that are historically underserved by the subway, like Southeast Queens or east-west travel in the Bronx?
  • Do you support the TriboroRX plan?
  • Significant work is needed to get our infrastructure to a state of good repair. What would you prioritize in your first year to ensure overdue and long-term needs are met?
  • What is your position on the suggested Empire Station Complex around Penn Station? How would you work with the state and the MTA to ensure the best possible outcome for New Yorkers’ transit system as the Empire Station Complex project moves forward?

 

MTA and NYC DOT

  • New York City residents represent over 40 percent of the state’s population and New York City has the largest transit system in the country, yet we have a minority voice on the MTA Board. How will you strengthen our voice and vote on the MTA Board?
  • The Fare Fares program provides half-priced rides to low-income subway, bus, and Access-A-Ride paratransit riders ages 18-64 years old. Will you support and expand this essential service for New Yorkers who need it most? To which other groups would you expand eligibility?
  • Will you commit to expanding fare discounts to riders on transit and commuter rail?
  • Many of you have shared your priorities when hiring the next NYPD Commissioner. What qualifications will you look for in a candidate as the next NYC DOT Commissioner?

 

Street Safety and Enforcement

  • Even as car traffic plummeted during the pandemic, traffic fatalities increased in 2020. This issue was especially acute in the Bronx, where the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed increased much more than in other boroughs. Now 2021 is on track to have the highest number of traffic fatalities since Mayor de Blasio took office. What will you do to revitalize and improve Vision Zero and save lives on our streets?
  • The speed safety camera program in school zones has been proven to reduce crashes, but the cameras are limited by state law to certain hours and locations. Do you support allowing the city’s speed cameras to expand their hours of operation to 24 hours a day?
  • Do you support the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act package of bills before the NYS legislature that would address rampant speeding on streets, incentivize the purchase of safer vehicles, hold reckless drivers accountable, combat impaired driving, protect our most vulnerable street users, and support those personally impacted by crashes?
  • Do you support Sammy’s Law, which would repeal the state law that prohibits New York City from lowering speeds on city streets below 25 miles per hour?
  • Do you support decriminalizing minor pedestrian and cyclists infractions, like jaywalking and biking on the sidewalk?

 

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